Do you find yourself in dysfunctional relationships?
Do you consistently end up getting hurt?
Why do you attract the same type of people who ultimately cause you pain?
If this sounds familiar, you need to look into your attachment style.
What is attachment style?
If you're asking, 'What the heck is that?
Attachment style, in simple terms, refers to the way we connect and bond with others. To better understand it, let me introduce you to a theory called attachment theory. This theory was given by a renowned British psychologist named John Bowlby back in the 1950s, it's packed with valuable insights that can shed light on how your relationships with others actually work.
Psychologist John Bowlby's theory suggests that the way adults form relationships is deeply rooted in their early experiences with their caregivers, making childhood experiences the foundation on which future relationships are built. Everything you learned, felt, and encountered as a child shapes the way you connect with others today.
You might wonder, what does your childhood have to do with your relationships today? So, let's dig deeper and discover what your attachment style can reveal!
As a child, you depended on your parents or caregivers to provide you with love, care, warmth, safety, and protection. If, for any reason, you didn't receive the love, care, and warmth you needed, or if your needs were inconsistently met, or if you didn't feel safe and secure, those feelings of abandonment and anxiety became ingrained in your subconscious.
That vulnerable child within you continues to influence your decisions and actions, even as an adult. When you enter new relationships, those unresolved emotions and experiences from your past can subtly seep into your present connections, affecting the way you relate to your partner. Besides your childhood, your previous life experiences and genetic makeup also play a role in your attachment style. One of the main messages of this theory is that, in romantic situations, you are programmed to act in a predetermined manner.
If you notice a recurring pattern of attracting similar people and encountering similar outcomes, it's crucial to examine your attachment style. Ask yourself:
Do you often find yourself in relationships with unsuitable partners?
Do you frequently experience anxiety within relationships?
Are you consistently attracted to emotionally unavailable partners?
Do you constantly fear that your partner will leave you?
You see, understanding the link between your childhood experiences and your current love life can provide valuable insights into your attachment style.
What are the different types of attachment style?
Bowlby's theory classifies attachment styles into four categories:
How are these attachment style form?
The answer has roots in the childhood and early life experiences.
Childhood experience: People who have secure attachment style are the ones who had a pretty awesome upbringing. Their needs were consistently met, and they learned to trust and depend on others in relationships. That's how as an adult they don't shy away from sharing and understanding feelings and develop healthy emotional bonds, leading to healthy relationship.
How do they express:
Hey, I had the best day today! Want to hear all about it?"
Childhood experience: Now, they had a bit of a rocky childhood. Maybe their caregivers were a bit unpredictable, or they felt abandoned at times. As a result, they often feel insecure and crave reassurance and closeness from their partners. They just need that extra dose of love and support, often. So now in relationship they are scared of being abandoned or rejected making them seek constant validation from partner.
How do they express:
"Hey, I texted you hours ago, and you still haven't replied. Are you upset with me?"
Childhood experience: Growing up, they had parents who were emotionally distant or neglectful. Their emotional needs were frequently ignored. So, they learned to suppress their own emotional needs and keep others at arm's length to protect them from getting hurt. They're like the emotional self-defense experts who like to keep emotional distance.
"I need some space right now. Can we talk later?"
Childhood experience: In their childhood, they had caregivers who were inconsistent in their availability and responsiveness. Sometimes caregivers were loving and attentive, but other times they seemed distant or dismissive. This inconsistency in their childhood created a push-pull dynamic in their adult relationships.
They are the ones who have a bit of both worlds going on. They desire closeness and intimacy, but they also fear rejection big time. This can create a bit of a rollercoaster in their relationships, with moments of intense connection followed by sudden retreats. It's like a love-hate dance they do.
How do they express:
I" want to be close to you, but I'm also scared you might leave. It's confusing sometimes."
Can attachment style change over time?
Attachment style is just the frameworks to help you understand how you relate to others. We're all unique, and our attachment styles can change and evolve over time. In fact, we can have even the mixed of depending on the situation or person. So, no need to fret if you identify with one style more than another. It's all part of the beautiful messiness of human connections!
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Levine, A., & Heller, R. (2010). Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love. TarcherPerigee.